Social services minister avoids challenge to live on $38 a day

He bills the public up to $435 a day in “travelling allowance” while away from home on official business. But

He bills the public up to $435 a day in “travelling allowance” while away from home on official business. But could the minister responsible for government payments (the dole), Christian Porter, make just over half that amount stretch across an entire week?

Tim Costello, chair of the Community Council of Australia, said Mr Porter should take the “Newstart challenge” of paying all his meals, travel costs and rent or housing-related costs on $260 a week.

Mr Costello, who used to oversee the 40-hour Famine challenge in his role as boss of World Vision, said it’s only when something is experienced physically that real understanding occurs.

“We all live in a bubble. But if the minister and other politicians got out of their bubble and tried living on Newstart they would understand that it’s not possible,” he said.

Mission Australia chief executive Catherine Yeomans said there was “nothing like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes . . . to see how it possibly works on Newstart”.

With senior members of the charity sector asking the minister to try and live on $38 a day – the base level of the Newstart Allowance – what was the minister going to do? Refuse to acknowledge the question of course.

Instead, his office issued a media release “welcoming” a $1.10 a week increase to Newstart from January 2017 as part of the usual indexation of government payments, including pensions.

“Total payments for single people without children on Newstart Allowance – including Energy Supplement – will increase to $537.50 a fortnight, while total payments for partnered recipients will rise to $485.30 a fortnight,” Mr Porter said in the release.

A spokesman for Mr Porter said: “It is absolutely challenging to live on Newstart, but the vast majority of Newstart recipients also receive additional supplementary payments on top of their Newstart Allowance such as Commonwealth Rent Assistance if renting privately. They may also be eligible for other Government payments such as Family Tax Benefit if they have care of dependent children.

“Newstart Allowance is designed to provide assistance to people of workforce age while they look for work.”

He said recipients can earn up to $104 a fortnight without having any of their Newstart payment affected.

Newstart is back under the microscope in Canberra amid signs that Labor will reverse its position in supporting the Turnbull Government’s $5 a week cut to Newstart for new recipients, to be achieved by removing the carbon tax-era “energy supplement”.

Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Cassandra Goldie on Monday met with government, ALP and crossbench figures in a last-ditch bid to save the $5-a-week energy supplement.

“It’s simply not possible to live on Newstart and if politicians accept the challenge  they will quickly find out that $38 a day is not enough to buy food, pay bills and rent, let alone try and find a job,” she said.

Do you agree with the members of the charity sector? Do ministers need to give this challenge a try?

  1. Leone O'Sullivan  

    They fail everywhere else and just keep their snouts in the trough. They’ll fail at this of curse, (nobody succeeds without help from family or friends) and still keep their snouts in the trough. It’s a total waste of time.

  2. Alan Pollard  

    Why is the “age of entitlement ” only over for pensioners and low income earners and not these greedy and self centred politicians ?

    • michael Sheridan  

      Very well said. You are so right. The greedy politicians try & tell you that an aged pension is a privaledge & not a ” Right”, so why have I been paying taxes for over 40 years & am still paying taxes. Why also is the Aged Pension less than the Minimum Wage?!

    • Susan Burdock  

      Excellent point..Astute.
      Real world…reduce Political pensions & benefits, have them MEANS & AGE TESTED.
      No more needs to be said!

  3. Newton Hill  

    And yet the people who receive these payments (and i know some) are died in the wool Labor or Coalition voters. Beats me. The pollies love the dumb voters.

  4. Stephen Nicholson  

    They have no interest in doing this challenge as their only thoughts are to find ways to reduce the amount to zero.

  5. Moira O'Reilly  

    The book “Dirt Poor” which came out a few years ago says it all. Christian Porter along with his “mates” in parliament needs to get out into the real world. If he is so sure that people can survive on these payments he needs to step up and experience it. I am so sick of their bad behaviour, constantly attacking each other and squabbling.

    • Susan  

      I like your reply
      Very much,
      in a nutshell. ALL politician salary and reimbursements, should be drastically reduced. The great sin of our political system is the enormous
      Pensions they receive after “retirement”; without going into to much detail here, BRONWYN BISHOP is such a prime example. It makes my blood boil. Who will take the stand and fight for reformation? These are the citizens required in a fair and healthy government. Imagine the difference these reductions to already “fat lambs” salaries would make to health, education and the true needy.

  6. Anita  

    They planing to give as $1.10 from January 2017 but at the same time cut the help of the energy supplement.
    Is so hard to live on the pension, if you need to paid a bill you have to cut you groceries shopping, and I can remember went was the last time we have a steak.
    We don’t smoke or drink alcohol but the amount of money we get on the pension is a joke compare with the amount the politicians get paid.
    We work hard and paid our tax and now we have to life in this condition.

  7. Dieter  

    Yes I underwrite most of the arguments and reasons mentioned above but as long as we are not getting up and demonstrate in masses in front of our MPs and on the streets we can only squabble here and on other social sites.
    We the over 55s are a relatively high percentage of voters and we could put pressure on the snout people.
    We just have to stand together and find someone who can give us a voice.
    Unfortunately I am not the one. I would love to but my ability to argue and stand verbally my ground is not good enough.
    To the above topic I can just say I was looking for my replacement (I wanted to retire ). I choose one applicant and he turned out to be knowledgeable and he seemed to be the one, for about 6 weeks. That’s when his first walkabout occurred with alcohol. My ex boss gave him another chance which he squandered a few weeks later. He used to be on New Start. One might think when someone gets a chance with 53 to earn a very good money with company car etc he will grab the opportunity and don’t let loose.
    Now he is back on New Start.
    What a disappointment.
    Now I have to come back out of retirement and teach the new applicant the ropes.

  8. Nancy Brenton  

    I have always voted Liberal but with all these Pollies with their snouts in the trough, Liberal and Labour, and expecting people to survive on a pittance is just not on. I think they are thumbing their noses at us. People need jobs – why are Army uniforms being made overseas, the light rail overseas because it’s cheaper – it could give so many people employment and a sense of self worth.

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